THE ORDNANCE DEPARTMENT: PLANNING MUNITIONS FOR WAR. By Constance McLaughlin Green, Harry C. Thomson, and Peter C. Roots. (1955, 1970, 1990; 542 pages, 14 tables, 18 charts, 54 illustrations, bibliographical note, glossary, index, CMH Pub 10-9.)

This first volume includes background material, reaching from the early nine-teenth century to the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 (Chs. I-III). The research and development programs, 1919 to 1939, receive special attention because of their direct effect upon much of the later work. The main emphasis of the book nevertheless falls upon the period 1939 to 1945.

While endeavoring to examine dispassionately the attitudes of other agencies within and outside the Army, the authors present the story chiefly from the point of view of the Ordnance Department. Chapter III gives a brief account of the financing

Page 114

of the department's activities before and during World War II in order to put the discussion of policies and procedures, accomplishments and failures, into a meaningful setting. It includes a rapid survey of the consequences of lend-lease, supplemental to the data in Global Logistics and Strategy. Chapter IV highlights the framework within which the department worked, the organization created by the two wartime Chiefs of Ordnance, and the revisions demanded by Army reorganization and the appearance of new civilian agencies; it also explains not only the major organizational features but also the philosophy underlying them and the sources of conflict between the Ordnance Department and other agencies. Two subsequent chapters (V and VI) cover recruitment and training of personnel to carry on the expanded tasks of the department. The rest of the volume deals with research and development problems.

Much of the section on research and development contains a discussion of particular items developed to meet particular military needs. It focuses therefore on the problem of translating combat requirements into feasible "development requirements" and the steps the Ordnance Department took to satisfy them. Hence the chapters on ordnance for ground warfare (X-XIII) deal with the development of equipment designed to embody all three desiderata of modern warfare: the greatest possible mobility, maximum firepower, and utmost protection for troops. A chapter (XIV) on weapons for ground defense against aerial attack constitutes the bridge between the data on ground and air equipment, while Chapters XV through XVII on aircraft armament analyze the characteristics of adequate airborne weapons and the work of the Ordnance Department in endeavoring to develop suitable airborne guns, rockets, and bombs. Comparisons with German concepts, methods, and results throw added light on much of the American research and development program. Finally, in Chapter XVIII, exploration of the difficulties resulting from the shortage of strategically important raw materials and description of the means devised to conserve them further explain ordnance quandaries.

Return to the Table of Contents